General Election Press Conference
|Document type:||public statement|
|Document kind:||Press Conference|
|Venue:||Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster|
|Source:||Conservative Party Archive: transcript|
|Editorial comments:||0930 onwards. Willie Whitelaw chaired the Press Conference and Francis Pym also shared the platform. Although it is the fullest available account the Conservative Party transcript is a highly fallible document. Three separate sections have been checked against material in the BBC Sound Archive (see editorial notes in text), but probable mistranscriptions are common in the unchecked sections. Obvious errors have been corrected, but in many cases the correct reading is unclear. In the original text the questions were separately transcribed - probably from shorthand or scribbed notes - and it is not even possible to match question to answer with complete certainty. The identity of speakers is also a matter of inference.|
|Themes:||General Elections, Housing, Economy (general discussions), Local government finance, Taxation, Environment, Conservatism, Autobiographical comments, Leadership|
[ Willie Whitelaw] WW
I have got Margaret Thatcher and Francis Pym here, they will talk on two of the policies that we are putting forward as part of a national contract at the election.
Margaret on Housing
Francis on Farming.
Margaret has issued a statement on the policy and she will speak in the summary presently, Francis will then will come with a statement and he will speak to the Press. After that I shall invite questions as usual, either of them on their issue of subject, and of course questions for me on any general part policy.
Introduction.Beginning of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive tape
I will not go through the general statement again—you have it in full, but may I summarise it?
I intend to make it absolutely clear that our plans for a nine and a half per cent mortgage are unshakeable and will be introduced by Christmas. We will give £1 for every £2 which young home seekers save up to a limit of savings £5 a week for two years, that is, £520 under a scheme approved by the next Conservative Government. That, of course, would not involve any extra expenditure for a minimum of two years but would in fact bring money in, because it rests upon two year's savings to trigger a grant into operation. That is deflationary, and brings money in during the first two years.
We will allow council tenants the right by law to own their own home. This again will bring extra money in because the weekly sums which they will pay will be greater than the rent which they would have paid. We will end the nationalization of private homes at public expense. You'll be aware that a large sum of 350 million was allocated in Mr. Healey's budget for two purposes: municipalization of private houses and an extra council house building programme.
You will also be aware of research figures and this morning there's a report from a municipal treasurer—that it is very much cheaper to use this money to help people buy their own homes and the proportion is approximately three families to buy their own homes for one family in a new council house or municipalized house.
And finally we will abolish the rates during the next parliament, assuming it's a five-year parliament. May I make it quite clear this does not involve any public expenditure extra to existing public expenditure, for the obvious reason that total public expenditure is the total of national and local expenditure, and transferring some of it from local to national does not alter the total in any way.
Now I understand there have been one or two criticisms from other conferences which you might attend about the policy, and one or two doubts whether it might be carried out. So I've tried to make it clear this time. Last time you'll remember I had an education manifesto. The criticism from Mr. Wilson and Mr. Crosland was not that I didn't carry it out, but that I did. They've good reason to believe that I will do the same with this one, and good reason to fear it because it's a much wiser use of resources than theirs and it's proving popular.[End of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive tape][fo 1]
[ Francis Pym] FPThe figures for the figures for the [words missing] food price index published this morning are quite staggering. In a week fresh foods rose by 2%; and the whole index by 1%;. The rise in the whole index in the past four weeks is equivalent to 28%; at an annual rate. Whether you take weekly monthly or annual checks or the housewives direct experience food prices are rising very fast indeed. Labour's [?] and effort to preserve the illusion that food prices are stabilising has blown up just two weeks before polling day. The 500,000,000 cut of food subsidies have failed to stop prices rising. At the same time these subsidies and Labours altering of the prices code have resulted in market distortion and growing shortages in the shops. Yet at the supply end of the chain the British livestock industry are cutting back production. Already pig numbers are seriously reduced and pork will soon be short and expensive. Milk production have been falling for some time and English butter and cheese look like becoming rarities. It would take up to 1976 for beef to get really short unless urgent action is taken. The beef producer has had no guarantees since the 23rd. March and that is the prerequisite for the rest of [words missing]. When Mr. Peart goes back to Brussels he must fight for an agreement which secures future production on the British livestock industry. In any case the new Conservative Government will take urgent action to review the whole British agricultural industry and make the appropriate cat injection to safeguard future food supplies. To-day's price index is the latest proof that you can't produce food out of a hat run a food policy on illusions. The possibility of shortage is serious and the interest of consumers and producers in securing more home grown food are to-day identical.[fo 2]
Tell us what cash injections mean—doesn't it mean subsidies to farmers. If so, why is this more moral than it is to have subsidies for food? (Manchester Evening News.)
Yes, it does, its a Fire Brigade operation to help them, particularly the livestock producers in the present crisis, many of them are going banckrupt, all of them are producing at a loss, if this is not altered quickly, our breeding stock will deteriote too fast and it is necessary to do this at once and then to work out a long term stratogy, but we can't wait for that to materialise before taking action in the immediate future.
Could Mr. Pym say how much?
Not an exact or precise figure, we don't know what the circumstances of the agreement will be in Brussels, whether it is an agreement or not, or precisely what the prices will be, or what the defecit will be when we take over, but it has of course got to be adequate and substantial in order to safeguard the supply in order to allow us to acrry on in the immediate future.[fo 3]
Does the 9½ per cent mortgage interest apply to second and third home buyers?
No, for the first home only, but it does not only apply to the first time purchasers it applies to existing mortgages. We have in fact had experience of doing it before you will remember that we held it at 9½%; for three months before
If food subsidies fail to stop prices rising will you keep them on?
We are going to take them out. We are going to keep them on in the immediate future in the interest of counter inflation, but the point is they are not working and the Labour Party themselves are beginning to realise it. I think we have got to look at the other end of the scale—at the feeding stuff costs and the input end.
Can you give us a timescale for phasing remort?
I think that is difficult. I think it will take some time not particularly quickly and that is a job for the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather than for me.[fo 4]Beginning of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive tape
Can Mrs. Thatcher say how she's going to prevent this fresh flow of money for house purchasing merely pushing up house prices and leading to the gazumping that we saw during the Conservatives' last period in office?
At the moment there is a great glut of supply on the market as you all know. Houses are not being sold. So the problem is oversupply and lack of demand. It is therefore the point in time to stimulate the demand. The deposit scheme is carefully timed so that it cannot begin to operate as far, as the grants are concerned, for two years, during which time it will give a good indication to builders of the extra demand coming in and give them time to build to meet that demand. I hope also that by the time the existing houses have been sold the builders will have commenced to build the new generation of houses. We have also said that we think that the advisory committee that Paul Channon set up to deal with the supply of money for housing—the Joint Advisory Council—really must include builders, because it is a supply demand problem I agree, and if you're considering one you must consider the other at the same time. We do agree I think with the fundamental assertion underlying your question, that you've got to restore confidence to the builders and got to work with them and got in the 18 months to two years to get the new generation of houses up.
Yes. Chris Jones.
Q7: Christopher Jones, BBC
Can Mrs. Thatcher say how long you could keep, you could be certain of keeping the mortgage rate at nine and a half per cent and not letting it go above that?
Ah, it is intended to be a maximum of nine and a half per cent to give young people confidence that they really can budget. It's not limited, it is a maximum of nine and a half per cent. We shall keep it there. If, if the mortgage rate falls below nine and a half per cent there is of course no subsidy. When it goes above nine and a half per cent there is of course a subsidy.
Q8: Christopher Jones, BBC
So you would keep it whatever happens at nine and a half per cent?
We retain it. It is a pledge to keep it at the maximum of nine and a half. I'm sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't clear.End of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive tape[fo 5]
Are you not following in the traditional way of all parties and getting your figures wrong by assuming the 11½ per cent? Is it not nearer 12 or 13 per cent?
Now this is very interesting, various people have asked this question in the House, and I remember Mr Crosland saying that he thought that the existing rates were very good for those who put their money with Building Societies. It is in fact at the moment, bringing the money into the Building Societies and I think that the reason is that Building Society account is doing a sort of calandar count on which you will get regular interest.
No, at the moment, the rate is 11 per cent, it was 11 per cent for four months under us and it has been 11 per cent for five to six months under the existing Government.
Is this not because of the home loans?
No, not necessarily, I think that the Building Societies are now organising themselves in a different way and they are attracting a different sector of savings. Before they offered just the one kind of saving and the one kind of rate and as you know now they are offering variable rates to people who will keep their savings with them for longer, and the reality is that the rate is 11 per cent. But if you want to make any change, the costing is £120 million gross for [every] 1 per cent you have to keep the mortgage rate down, so it is against that £120 million gross has to be a reduced amount for house relief, because you get less tax relief on this 9½ per cent than you do on 11 per cent, so the £120 million is a gross figure for 1 per cent, not the net cost, which is lower.[fo 6]
Am I right in thinking the idea is of keeping tax concessions to the building societies and not the individual home buyer? How can you prevent the second and third home buyer being brought into this scheme?
The instrument of a building society would have in fact have to reduce the composite rate and you would do in fact by specifying what any subsidy or reduction is for. It couldn't be done wholly by the composite rate because there are some local authorities mortgages although only about one tenth of the amount of house purchase is done through local authorities compared with building societies and they of course have to have a subsidy. I do not think that by Christmas it will be possible to have brought in the legislation about the composite rate, it will have to be done in a finance bill, and we therefore have to resort to the previous method in the interim of doing it by direct subsidy. This is a thing which really isn't of great significance to the person who is buying the home, it is a technical point which we have to think of it.
Can you say whether you would abolish the freeze on commercial rents and what would be the Conservative policy for taxing the profit on development property?
Now I think that [words missing in text] the freeze on commercial rents as it was a freeze up to the beginning of this June and then as we had arranged it from June this year to June next year there would be a steady increase in commercial year up to November 1972 values and after that year return to a free market in business rents. I have not thought of changing that, but the present Government in fact has delayed it for another year and has not given any undertaking about what will happen in 1976. I think it important on the commercial rent market to return to a true rent.
Mr. Freeson said at the end of this year the Labour Government would end the freeze—and increases thereafter would be rephased.[fo 7]
Yes, there is a similar undertaking in our Manifesto, we said because we did not want there to be any doubt about it that we would keep the freeze on until the end of this year because that is the planning and forward budgeting that people have made and after that a similar thing can be fought for rent increases as well in that phase and the maximum amount was applied for the increase each year, but obviously the amount has to be kept in step with any other economic policy to counter inflation.
How would you keep the interest rate down for other forms of lending for house purchasing—eg, banks, insurance companies, etc?
Only through the Building Societies?
No, this is for the home buyer—no, local authority mortgages as well—because they are very similar, and people who have not been able to get one through the Building Society, often go to local authorities and it just would'nt be fair to give it to one and not to another.
Is it fair that the Conservative National Contract is producing a scheme which will give more money to the rich—the more money you have, the more you will get out of this scheme?
I don't agree with you that the 4 million people who are now buying their homes are 4 million rich, and surely the Inland Revenue would be delighted to learn that we have 4 million really rich people in this country. They are not, that is absolute nonsense, there are some young couples who bought their houses in the last two years, who committed themselves up to the hilt when the mortgage was still at 8½ per cent and, they are in very considerable financial difficulty, and have had to put their houses on the market, and found that they can't sell them because there is virtually no market at the present time.
Your own figures show that £20,000 will get £20 a month and £7,000, £7 a month.
For a £20,000 house, there is not necessarily a hire purchase … .[fo 8]
It will not be purchased by a low income worker, will it?
A £50,000 house is only inhabited by a rich person today. Especially in the London area. No, but I am not certainly, I agree, not limiting it to those who purchase the lowest price house. In the London are as you know in a constituency like mine it is very difficult to get a house below £11 or 12 thousand pounds. But the idea that people who are buying those and then perhaps when they need a larger house when their family are growing up having to move to one which costs £20,000 are rich. It is just not on.
Lord Goodman said in his report that co-ownership was becoming practical world 9½ per cent be the top limit?
Well, I have really rather a lot of letters indicating that people are very disappointed with [gap in text] schemes because they write and say "Look we own nothing." I have not thought of applying it at the moment beyond building societies and local authority mortgages, and certainly the pledge to enable people to buy would not necessarily apply to pure ownership. I will have a look at the other point.
On behalf of the mortgage scheme which is usually used, yes. Yes, normally you purchase there are very few co-ownership schemes, normally you purchase on the same rate and you use the option mortgage as well. Yes, it does apply to that.[fo 9]
For existing schemes in fact the tenant will be paying less?
You seem critical of the fact that £350 million has been allocated to building more council houses—don't you think there is a need for more council houses?
Yes, that is an extra allocation because a large part of the allocation was not for building more council houses but for municipalising existing private houses. You can't an exact split on the £250 million between the two, The Sunday Times in an article on 23rd March put it at £200 million for municipalisation and £150 million for building council houses. The point about the £200 million is that we should stop further municipalisation, you know that it is fact the Labour Party's plan to in fact municipalise all private rented houses, but what they are at the moment doing is buying up houses which have been built on private estates. For the amount it costs to buy one for £10,000 and to build one for £10,000 we can have three families who can become home owners so there is a lot of [gap in text] money available there. The extra council house allocation is £150 million
Would you prefer to see the whole of the £350 million going to build council houses?
As I said I cannot give an exact breakdown at the moment. We ask questions regularly about how much has gone into municipalisation.
I am not asking for a breakdown—I am asking whether you would like to see that amount of money spent on council houses?
Let me give you my answer I am not sure whether it will fit your question. If it doesn't fit you will not be put off I know. We shall have to have further council houses built but I prefer to build them for special needs especially for old people, for slum clearance and of course for social cases. I think to carry on building them for ordinary needs above that is not a wise use of resources when many many people for a slightly extra monthly payment could buy a house of similar size and similar price and own that home after 25 years. I hope that will do.[fo 10]
Mr. Whitelaw, getting away from money, Mr Thorpe said this morning about the so-called offer from the Wood Green Tory to the Liberal to step down and pay his election expenses—Mr Thorpe is wondering when despair hit Central Office over this matter? Are you involved? Have you any comment?
Yes, certainly I have, first of all, I knew nothing of it until I read it in the newspaper, it is entirely apparently an individual in this deal … . I would like to state catagorically that Central Office has nothing to do with anything like that at all, if Mr. Thorpe is suggesting by a side wind, or by a slight sneer that we have, I hope that you will take my word for it that we have not, and let me make it perfectly clear that he is not suggesting that because it is quite untrue.[fo 11]Beginning of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive tape
You seem to envisage council house building being very much reduced in scale to the special category you mention. Would you explain how adequate housing can be provided in urban areas except by local authorities, and in particular how the ... people can buy their own houses in central [word indistinct] ... in central London?
There are already five and three quarter million council houses which is 30 per cent of the total stock of houses. A lot of people in those homes would prefer to have bought homes if they'd had the chance. Now you not only have to consider the new house building programme when you're considering private houses but you must also consider keeping the existing stock in good condition. This was why we put so much emphasis on improvement grants last time and we gave in our last year of office 365,000 in England and Wales—improvement grants in respect of 365,000 houses.
Now there are lot of houses which the policy has been to bulldoze down and build more. That is not a really good policy. Of the houses purchased I think it's only about one in five is a new house, and you mostly find that people buying for the first time don't go for new houses but go for the, er, old houses that need reconditioning in some of the twilight areas of the cities. And so the improvement grant policy will of course continue and we expect many people to go for those. It's some of these houses that are on the market now and which are not being bought.End of extract checked against BBC Sound Archive type[fo 12]
Apart from the question of paying lost deposits do you encourage or approve of Tory candidates writing to their opponents suggesting they should stand down?
Will you have an enquiry? Liberal Party claims there has been several.
I have no knowledge that they are at all. Again I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not deal with sneers and inuendos I deal with facts, and if I am to be given the facts, very good, I would be delighted to deal with them. I have given my word which I would have thought would have been taken by Mr. Thorpe and probably also all through when I say that Central Office had nothing to do with it. That is the fact and that is what I am dealing with.
This is not a smear or anything. I think it was Lord Avebury who said a Nottingham Conservative candidate had offered to represent a Liberal as well—it seems a little bizarre.
It does seem to be a little bizarre and all I can say is I am still dealing with facts and I hope reasonable facts and I think honestly what I have received there is rather a bizarre [gap in text] amusing snide suggestion which I take in the spirit of which it was given.
In this context the suggestion was made that there is a Conservative dirty tricks department reminiscent of the American campaign. Can you characterise in this vein the mood of the election campaign—is it a clean or a dirty one?
I personally think that it should be conducted and I think I have said so from the very start without sneers or [gap in text] of any sort. I am rather doubtful though, you can talk about charcterising, I would never personalize these things, but I rather doubt if you thought of having dirty trick games that you would necessarily cast me in the role of the man who is likely to do it. I don't think so and therefore this really is a peace. [sic] There is no such thing. This campaign has been cleanly and properly conducted. The only objection I have, and I must say I have it very much, is that there have been some actions taken from lies coming from the start of this campaign which was totally unjustified. Perhaps in Margaret's presence, I may say that I for one in, view of what she has told about our housing policies makes Tony Crosland's suggesting that she was a liar was thoroughly unfair, thoroughly unreasonable and a very wrong accusation. That I regret in fact, it saddened me because I want to see this campaign conducted on a thoroughly straight forward and honestly.[fo 13]
Yesterday afternoon the Conservative dominated Westminster Council approved the redevelopment of Piccadilly Circus. Along these lines—many people would consider it giving a hand to property speculators—have you any views on this?
I think that Tony Barber dealt with the problem of taxing profit arising from long deals, he dealt with this in fact very severely but dealt with it, that has now come through in the existing finance act, and I think that the way to deal with found dealing in land, is by the taxation system. It is much better than any other way and does not require any extra bureaucracy to deal with existing Inlands Revenue.
From the environmental point of view—have you received a letter yet?
It may be in the press, but I have not seen it, it has not arrived to me as yet.[fo 14]
Question missed, but thought to refer to question of purchasing at ‘knock down’ price being disastrous.
Quite easily I can defend such a policy. I believe that Englishmen and Welshmen and Scotsmen and Irishmen have a right to purchase their own house and the land on which it belongs. The right to own the land on which you house stands is quite emotive in English history. It is a right and I do not propose to deny that right to people because they live in council houses. There are 5¾ million council houses and nothing like 5¾ million social cases in this country. The people want it; in most cases it will bring a very good profit to the ratepayer and the Exchequer. You want the figures of the sale of council houses you only have to look in the public expenditure White Papers which are published every year to see the number of sales and the amount which comes back into the Exchequer. One moment, you asked me—and I am saying that there are 5¾ million council houses and it is a good deal for both the person who lives in them and the ratepayer and the taxpayer, and I am not prepared to deny people who live in those houses the right to own them.
No, lets call it realisation.
You cannot get away with that. [Interruption during previous answer?][fo 15]
You talk about houses for social cases—is it a good idea to lump together what might begin to be ghettos people who are social classes?
That's a very good argument for selling council houses because by doing that you in fact get a social mix in what was formally a wholly tenanted estate.
I was referring to the ones you intend to build in future just for social cases?
I am bound to say that I don't like massive big-scale council house building all in one area. Many of the people who live in council houses I know prefer to live in the smaller enclaves of council housing, and I think we have probably learned a good deal of the layout and design of the estates and I am not sure that all those left are still being put into practice. But I do prefer I agree to have them distributed about the area and not in these massive large estates.
Would you explain what the Conservative policy on council house rents will be? Do you propose restoring the Housing Finance Act for increases?
No final decision has been made Mr. [gap in text], that would be going back or forward to the fair rent system. There is a Conservative document out now as you know by the present Government proposing that you substitute reasonable rent for fair rent. I don't find it very easy to explain to election audiences the difference between a reasonable rent and a fair rent, but in some cases a reasonable rent is more than a fair rent and in some cases it is less depending on the structure of the council house top of the local authority but I want to do it before I finally decide to see the reports of all the rent scrutiny boards which should be by October. You will remember that the rent scrutiny boards were the final appeal boards for fixing the fair rent for council houses. They are public documents some of them are out, I see, but not all. They are giving a wealth of interesting information and I would, therefore, like to study them in more detail before finally deciding whether we go back to the principle of there being a fair rent for a house and subsidising the tenant, or the rival one that the local authority in fact finances its own housing render accounts except for the rent rebate and, therefore, can say what the rents are to apply in general to the tenants in that area.[fo 16]
Would you agree that the bugbear of farm policy in this country for many years is people have been used to spending too little on their food? In the cause of national unity could not the parting get together after the election and try to educate people into paying a higher proportion on food than they do on drink and entertainment, which they do not object to at present?
Yes I think I do agree with that. It is perfectly true that as the standard of living has risen in this country the proportion of the average family income being spent on food is much less and on other things it comes to a very great deal more. I think that is absolutely right. We do regret that that was the Labour Government institutional [gap in text] we think they can't be any [gap in text] and we criticise Mr. Time, [sic] and they themselves.
What is your intention about council flats—do you intend to deny council flat tenants the right to own their own home?
No, but I think they will probably have to be purchased on a very long lease for obvious reasons. I know that in Scotland they have got used to giving the freehold of flats even though the freehold is a packed in space supported by other flats, but we would expect to sell council flats on the same long lease so that you do not too much difficulty of managing the estate.[fo 17]
Is that figure of 5¾ million including the flats?
That is dwellings yes.
It is a Great Britain figure.
You referred to the Grocer Food price index. What is the Conservative policy towards food price index? Is it your proposal to reduce it or increase it?
Well let us not deceive ourselves that it isn't going to go at the moment going up, but what you will recall what Mr. Wilson said yesterday that the prices in the shops are going down and I think the figures revealed this morning show that that is not so. They are going to go up and the food subsidies that he is claiming that would stop prices rising up have been successful. I think the [gap in text] greatly illusion are price rises going down. The fact of the matter is they are not, and what is so worrying is, that unless the proper action is taken, shortages will increase and that means that prices will go still higher.
What is the Conservative policy towards the Food Price Index? Would you want to be judged by the Food Price Index in the future?
Well certainly if the price index continues, and in spite all the facts, and these price rises which I have talked about in my statement take account of the actual subsidies paid by the [gap in text] in spite of all that they are going up at this rate. What we have got to have is a continuing flow added to the price of food and that is the best way of dealing with it. I am not trying to pretend that prices are not going to continue going up. It is the other side that say that they are stabilised when they are not.[fo 18]
You said earlier Mr. Peart should fight in Brussels. How should he fight? What should he fight with? How would you fight if you were in his place, and what for?
Not only does Britain want to see changes in the CAP, like we did when we were in Government before, and and now other countries in the European community want to see changes, and I think this is a moment when this has all got to be looked at again, and we said in our Manifesto that not only do we want a review on Agriculture but naturally we want a review on a community basis and it seems that some of the other members also want to do that.
Indeed I am negotiating from within, and so is Mr. Peart, excepting from negotiating from within, there is no other way of doing it, and so was Mr. Wilson, when he was Prime Minister before, and of course it can be done effectively and socially and the trouble is that this Government, by diddling about whether they want to remain in Europe, have thrown us into this disposition and I think that the rest of the community would be fatal to see themselves with a Government that is not committed to Europe, and so stopping themselves getting on with proper negotiations.
I would like to ask about the switching of the rate burden to the Exchequer—has it been worked out how much extra urban tax payers will have to fork out in order to make life cheaper for countryside dwellers?
As most of that question does not require any answer at all.
I don't think that [gap in text] is the best solution of income across the country as a whole.
This year [sic]
Answers to questions in the House assuming they are right, the gardens on the domestic rate payers, they must consider the local authority expenditure is about £135,000 million, [sic] since then an extra £150 million relief has been given, and this takes it down to about £850 million. But I am supposing that a steady transfer of that comparatively moderate sum over a period of five years, I think that will be effective. Now, someone suggested that that transfer should be borne solely on one track, but distributed among them and the balance of most of them, certainly income tax and the rest of taxes are very grave at the moment, but if you are suggesting that the redistributed, but obviously I suppose if you put it on income tax, a part of income tax, it does mean that there would be more income tax paying more towards the [gap] burden. Some of those possibly have been termed higher rates and some of them lower rates.
Certainly there are a lot more tax payers than there are rate payers and you go from a narrow base tax to a much wider based taxes, the difference in incomes between the parts of the country have already been taken into account with the redistribution forms of the rent reform grant.[fo 19]
Under Tory government the building in the public sector has always decreased—from what Mrs. Thatcher says about it today she is suggesting. This trend will continue. Is it the ultimate object of the Conservative Party policy to end public sector building altogether except for the socially deprived groups which Mrs. Thatcher has mentioned?
In fact you won't find any specific relationship or only a very simple relationship between public sector building and the political complexion of the party. If you look back the 1965 White Paper on Housing by our opponents you will find that it was then generally accepted that there would probably be a reduction in the volume of council house building required. In about 1959 or 60 we altered the housing subsidy system to go for the special needs, the older folk and slum clearance. We would look I think and see what the needs are and how best to provide them and I very much have in mind that they would in any event be a special need for building for the older folk and some of the social cases and some for slum clearance but I think that a lot of the other needs could be better provided by helping people to purchase their own and it would be better for them, and you can see that if you compare the position of two people, one of them became a council house tenant 25 years ago and one who purchased a home of approximately the same size.
Robin Day BBC
Would Mrs. Thatcher like to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the next government, because she's rather good on money things?
I am very well aware that I am accused of not supplying statistics and I am happy with statistics, and I always get this question. I would take what comes and enjoy it.
And on that merry note, thank you very much.